||Down with Grammar! Link to recording of presentation
Dennis Newson M.A. (Cantab), P.D.E.S.L (Leeds) taught EFL in Africa, Arabia, Norway and Germany in middle schools, secondary schools, teacher training colleges, a technical university and an arts university. He was a consultant for short periods in Bosnia and Kosovo, and conferences have taken him to Poland, Hungary, Las Palmas, Russia and England. He has developed his interest in SL since his alleged retirement. He is also a member of the Iatefl GISIG committee (global issues), the YLTSIG committee and moderator of the YLTSIG online discussion list and online events. He did his first EVO session as a co-moderator for a project about teaching foreign languages in Second Life.
I shall first consider and speculate just why it is that the mention of ‘grammar’ amongst an audience of language teachers is likely to release the sort of passions that are otherwise reserved for the discussion of religion or politics, that is why it is that all language teachers
appear to have very firmly-held views on ‘grammar’. After examining a selection of learner accounts on the usefulness or otherwise of the learning of grammar in the learning and acquisition of a foreign language, I shall then examine the arguments of a number of typical pro grammar adherents followed by a consideration of the opposing arguments of writers like Stephen Krashen and the Dutch linguist Rens Bod and examine the relevance of some of the work on language as a complex adaptive system by Nick C. Ellis and Diane Larsen-Freeman. My thesis is that the belief that learning a language means learning the grammar – widely held by teachers, learners and their parents – by misunderstanding the nature of grammar and of effective learning is detrimental rather than supportive. Since I shall be knocking many time-honoured procedures it seems only just that I should suggest a
number of alternative approaches. These will all be based on enabling learners to mean what they wish to mean using the resources of the language they are studying and will not highlight ‘grammar’.